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Assault at Denver International Airport

I used to work as the assistant security director at Denver International Airport. When I saw the story about the recent sexual assault that took place int the terminal building it reminded me, as it should remind every aviation security practitioner and passenger and employee, that aviation security is not just about preventing terrorism, it’s also about… Continue Reading

TSA is under fire for advanced screening of a 6-year-old, and they should be

A TSA screener at the New Orleans’ Armstrong International Airport conducted an advanced pat-down of a 6-year-old girl. According to the TSA, and from watching the video, the screener conducted the pat-down in accordance with the proper procedures and was polite about the process. However, the TSA has said that the advanced pat-down will not be… Continue Reading

Counterterrorism, Whack a Mole & the industry’s soft underbelly

A British Airways employee was just convicted of plotting to blow up an airplane. He had also been told by his handlers to find out if they could get a bomb or a person with a bomb on board a flight. Fortunately, Rajib Karim was only a computer tech – he had applied for but been rejected for a flight attendant’s position, which would have given him much easier access to the plane.

Just one day after Karim’s conviction, an airport worker with possible al Qaeda ties fired on a bus of American serviceman, killing two and wounding several others.

Aviation security is just like Whack-a-Mole. Whenever one threat is mitigated, another one pops up. The threat of employees within the system committing terrorist and criminal acts is one that pops up frequently. We need to quit hitting the mole’s head and start working on extracting it completely, through better background checks and better training, or it will pop up again, with deadly consequences. Continue Reading

Eat, drink, especially drink, and be merry

The country that kicked off the liquid ban seems like it’s ready to end it, at least partially. At the end of April, the European Union will allow passengers passing through Europe from a third country to carry liquids, aerosols and gels purchased either at an airport duty-free shop or on board a non-European airline. Unfortunately, the technology to scan liquids is still far from perfect. However, this reaction is not entirely surprising. Continue Reading

Body imager fails to detect firearm

Is Twitter to be blamed for the failure of screeners to detect a gun, five times through a TSA checkpoint?

A TSA employee testing the Advanced Imaging Technology (i.e. body scanner) at DFW was able to smuggle a firearm through the AIT’s on five separate occasions without being detected.

Click here for NBC story.

It’s still too early to tell what went wrong. It has not been made public just what element of the system failed. Did the technology fail to present the image properly? Did the technology fail to identify the threat item and highlight it, or did the screener miss it? We don’t know but these are all valid questions that must be asked and answered. Continue Reading

Do you trust that we’re going the right direction?

The TSA recently announced that it is moving forward with two programs to improve aviation security, Trusted Traveler and a better system of checking on passengers before they can fly. I believe these are two steps in the right direction.

In a recent USAToday editorial, the paper disagreed based on the fact that the programs have not worked in the past. However, the previous trusted traveler programs were not implemented the way they were supposed to be – they were set up to fail from the beginning. Continue Reading

Suicide bombing in Moscow Airport, could it happen here?

Based on the first reports, a suicide bomber has detonated an explosive device in the terminal building at the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. The explosion occurred near the the international arrivals section of the airport. Click here for USAToday report. Early reports is that at least 31 have died and an additional 130 are injured. Industry security experts have warned against this type of attack for several years, and this is not the first time airport terminals have been targets. Continue Reading

9th Annual Aviation Security Summit

So what do the industry leaders have to say about the future of aviation security?

Let me start out by saying that everyone wants to work cooperatively, to build partnerships on an intelligence-driven-risk-based-assessment approach to reduce the size of the haystack because at the end of the day it’s all about security.

If that sounds like a convoluted sentence, it is. But, those were the terms that we heard over and over again. I might also add that those are the same terms we hear just about every year. Other recurring themes, that recurred again this year, included the usual “let’s focus on bad people not bad things,” which in the real world ends up meaning – “throw more technology at everything.”

The Opening Session

There were a few patterns that may give us some clues about the shape of things to come… Continue Reading

Pilot You Tube Videos Revealed. . . what?

This story is getting a lot of play this week. I’ve heard that this pilot has been called everything from a hero to a whistleblower, and his attorney is equally enjoying his own celebrity. Just recently his attorney offered to make his client available to consult with Congress on aviation security.

Time to offer some reality.

As for what he revealed and his hero status and potential to brief Congress. From what I can tell, a “gap” was not revealed. The fact that many airport and airline employees do not undergo screening like passengers do, is not an industry secret. It’s been going on since about the time that screening for passengers was implemented. It IS a controversial topic, but there are not easy solutions.
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